Widgets aren’t new technology; they’ve been around on Android phones for quite some time but are only now starting to become a more mainstream feature on the iPhone and iPad. While app icons sit motionless on your Home Screen, an app widget will give you an at-a-glance view of whatever is happening inside the app.
Although many iPhone widgets work on the iPad just fine, not all of them do. So here’s a list of the very best widgets to try out on your iPad.
If you use a digital calendar, then you need to be using the Apple Calendar widget. There are plenty of other calendar apps with corresponding widgets in the App Store, but Apple’s built-in Calendar widget is still one of the best.
There are lots of different widget sizes and configurations to choose from, and they can be personalized depending on the different calendars you have synced.
If you only want to see your work calendar or your personal calendar, then add the widget to your Home Screen. Next, long press the widget and tap Edit Widget. Ensure Mirror Calendar App is switched off, and then tap the Calendars option below. Here, you’ll be able to select which calendar you want to see in your widget.
If you want to see all events across all calendars, then keep Mirror Calendar App switched on.
If you want to get the most out of your iPad and increase your productivity at the same time, then you need to make use of the Shortcuts app and widget. Apple’s Shortcuts app allows you to automate certain processes and activate a chain of commands with one tap or Siri command.
If you aren’t using Shortcuts yet, then before you add the widget to your iPad, open the Shortcut app and play around with some pre-built Shortcuts. Once you’re done, go back to your Home Screen and add the Shortcuts widget for easy access to those shortcuts.
If you use Google Drive, then the corresponding widget makes a handy addition to your iPad Home Screen. You can either configure the Google Drive widget to show your recent files, or you can set it up to show shortcuts for common Google Drive actions.
Decide between a small, medium, or large widget, and then configure it by long-pressing and selecting Edit Widget. Toggle Show Selected Files on to view recent Google Drive documents, and toggle it off if you want your widget to act as a shortcut for common Google Drive actions.
Download: Google Drive (Free, subscription available)
If you regularly commute, then the Google Maps widget deserves a place on your Home Screen.
You may be wondering why Apple Maps isn’t the go-to map recommendation, but the truth is, you can’t do a lot with the Apple Maps widget. The Google Maps widget, on the other hand, lets you see real-time trip information for a pinned trip, and it can also be configured to show you the latest traffic conditions or to help you find places nearby.
If you want to set up the Google Maps widget to show real-time data for your commute or journey, then you need to pin your tip in the Google Maps app first. To do this, get directions for your journey and then tap Pin in the bottom right of your screen. Once you add the Google Maps widget to your home screen, you can now long press the widget, tap Edit Widget, and then select which pinned trip you want the widget to show data for.
Download: Google Maps (Free)
Up next, we have the Apple Mail widget. If you use your iPad for work, then this widget is a great way to have eyes on your unread emails or a particular inbox.
Once you’ve added the widget to your Home Screen, long press the widget and tap Edit Widget to choose which mailbox you want to view. You can also choose to view all inboxes or just your unread emails. If you use Focus modes on your iPad, then you can set your Home Screens to show work emails in one focus and personal emails in another.
This one probably won’t interest everyone, but for those who work across multiple time zones, it’s a lifesaver. The World Clock widget is just one of the Clock widget options, and it allows you to view up to four different clocks set to locations of your choosing.
Once you’ve added the widget to your Home Screen, long press, tap Edit Widget, and then choose the cities you want the widget to display. You can also reorder the cities by pressing and holding the three lines next to each city and dragging them up or down the list.
It isn’t the most aesthetic clock widget available, but it comes pre-installed on your iPad, and you won’t need to download any new apps to access it.
If you don’t like the aesthetic of the Clock app widgets, then you may prefer the minimalist view of Flip Clock. Before you add anything to your Home Screen, download the Flip Clock Digital Widgets app and open it to customize your widget settings. The app is free, but if you want to remove ads or access premium color options, then you will need to upgrade by paying a one-time fee.
If you like black and white and don’t plan on using the app for anything except its widgets, then the free version is more than sufficient.
Open the app and tap the gear icon in the top right-hand corner. Then tap Widget Settings. Here, you can customize your small, medium, and large widgets. Choose a 12-hour or 24-hour clock, decide whether to display seconds, and pick from a handful of free color themes.
When you’re finished, go back to your Home Screen, and you’ll be able to add your new customized flip clock widget.
Download: Flip Clock (Free, in-app purchases available)
There’s no shortage of to-do-list apps for iPad, and while some have decent widget options, most fall short or don’t warrant the effort needed to set them up. While the pre-installed Apple Reminders app may not allow you to customize its colors, in terms of functionality, it’s a cut above most, and most importantly, it’s free!
As with most widgets, the Reminders app is only as good as you make it. While you can set it up to just show all tasks, if you want to get the most out of the widget, you need to set up lists in Reminders.
Lists enable you to customize your widget experience and segment your tasks. For example, you can set up one widget to show tasks related to work and another related to home.
If you use Reddit, then you need the Apollo app and its associated widgets. Apollo was created with iOS in mind, so it feels right at home on the iPad. While it isn’t the official Reddit app, it somehow manages to offer users so much more. Download the Apollo app for free, and then head into your widgets to see the magic.
Not only can you add a widget to show recent posts in a feed of your choosing, but you can also add a wallpaper widget that rotates through image-heavy subs. Alternatively, add a subreddit widget to take you straight to where you spend the most time, or a jokes widget or a shower thoughts widget for a bit of quick fun.
Download: Apollo (Free, subscription available)
Whether you work on your iPad, share it with your kids, or split its use between work and play, using widgets will improve your user experience. There are tons of different widgets you can add to the Home Screen, and we think the options above are the best of the lot.
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